Will being a smoker affect spirometry test results?

By John Hawes | Last updated: January 16, 2019

Being a smoker is not something that will automatically cause your spirometry test to differ from that of a non-smoker. But any damage to your lungs caused by smoking that impairs your breathing is likely to be detected by a spirometry test.

A spirometry test measures your lungs ability to force air out of your lungs and to inhale fully. Often, a smoker’s lungs become obstructed over time. It is possible that the obstruction may be so slight that you are not yet aware of the condition, yet still be detectable using spirometry. Spirometry tests are a primary test used in the early detection of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition known to effect smokers.

Smoking is also known to cause irritation of the tissues of the lungs and lower chest expansion during breathing. In addition, smoking increases mucus production in the lungs which may lead to congestion, coughing, or bronchitis. moking may contribute to the development of pulmonary fibrosis, a form of scarring within the lungs . Pulmonary fibrosis is a restrictive airway disease that limits the body’s ability to inhale and exchange oxygen. This restrictive effect can be detected during spirometry testing.

Because spirometry requires the test subject to breathe deeply, fully inflating the lungs, smokers may experience coughing or discomfort during the testing process.

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Written by John Hawes

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John Hawes is the CCO and co-founder at SureHire Occupational Health Testing. John graduated in 2001 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. As a former physical therapist, John uses his knowledge of physical therapy and interest in ergonomics and biomechanics to devise fit for work testing.

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